A new passenger terminal would benefit everyone


We can start with the technical reasons: at the moment, the Passenger Port cannot physically accommodate all ships due to infrastructure limitations (both in terms of turning basin and the number and depth of berths at the quays). Almost one fifth of cruise ships call at the bulk terminal on the left bank of the Daugava. Practical arguments aside, the existing passenger terminal is both visually and functionally past its sell-by date in terms of aesthetic appeal. Riga needs a new calling card for sea travellers, and passengers need a modern and multifunctional terminal. This is exactly what is on the agenda - to create a new passenger and ro-ro cargo terminal for Riga by 2026, if the decision-makers do not hesitate.

For sea travellers, the terminal is the first location that represents the city. We need to think about presenting ourselves as an innovative and promising European port city. World practice shows that the conversion and redevelopment of existing port buildings, to create modern and autonomous passenger terminals, develops the relevant part of the city, bringing both an economic contribution and international recognition, not least an improved environment for the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. This development concept is also the basis for the new terminal. 

A new passenger terminal would mark the Daugava waterway and the Port of Riga with a new quality, in line with European standards. Estimates show that Riga could welcome up to 150 cruise ships and 540 vessels per year in the passenger and cargo segments with a new passenger terminal. In total, the new terminal could welcome around 800 000 passengers in its first year of operation. Beyond the obvious need for a new passenger terminal, a market feasibility study has been carried out. Compared to the number of passengers already handled, passenger growth is forecast at 5% per year, with the audit firm Deloitte Latvia forecasting 8%.

What does the increase in water transport tourists mean for Riga? New jobs not only in the passenger terminal itself, in the related infrastructure development and in the provision of terminal services, but also in the major tourist attractions in Riga and the Baltic region. Riga can become not only a transit route for tourists, but also a pleasant destination to spend several days. In the long term, Riga could also develop a home port for a cruise line.

Once a cruise line expresses interest in a destination, its viability depends on the offer of the destination, including infrastructure and accessibility, following an assessment of economic and geopolitical factors. With a new terminal, Riga would in the future offer high connectivity to  the city, strengthening land, air and water connections. The development of the Rail Baltica project also creates the need for a modern passenger terminal, which would become one of the three nodes underpinning Riga's mobility.

A letter of intent has now been signed between the Freeport of Riga Authority and the developer of the new passenger and RoRo cargo terminal, with a view to establishing a new passenger and cruise ship terminal, as well as a RoRo cargo terminal. In October this year, the Council for the Conservation and Development of the Historic Centre of Riga has approved the refined version of the local plan for the southern part of Exportosta to proceed to public consultation. The project developers are ready for the next steps, but more active involvement of the decision-makers is also needed.  

Regardless of how sea travellers and cruise operators choose Riga, the city has the potential to become a sought-after water tourism destination in the long term with the new passenger terminal project. A new passenger terminal would create a coherent passenger infrastructure, improving both daily point-to-point travel and helping travellers to arrive in Riga more quickly and easily. Riga is a water city, it is time to start tapping this potential.

Go back